The Associated Press reports that Uber said yesterday that "its drivers will collect up to five prepaid and sealed packages and drop them off at a local post office or at UPS or FedEx stores. Uber will charge a flat fee of $5 for the service or $3 for its Uber One members."
According to the story, customers will have to choose the locations where the packages are to be dropped off - Uber is serving only as a kind of ferry service. Drivers will provide "visual confirmation" that the package has been delivered.
It won't just be returns, though that is the primary focus of the program. Uber also will "mail new packages that are sealed and have prepaid labels."
Uber says that the service will be available in about 5,000 US cities to start.
- KC's View:
I don't know how much of an impact Uber will be able to make, but the market certainly is there - the story points out that FedEx and UPS deliver 31 million parcels each day, while the U.S. Postal Service delivers 25 million. Just a small piece of that, times five dollars, could add up to real cash.
Uber, for the record, thinks it could deliver more than a half-million packages a day on business days. That sounds high to me, but you never know - especially going into the holiday shopping season.
It also is an interesting time for Uber to be getting into this business. There is a Reuters story today about how "U.S. retailers and other delivery customers for the first time in more than four years are easily winning discounts from United Parcel Service and FedEx, according to industry data and interviews with seven professionals who advise shippers in price negotiations.
"That's a sharp reversal from 2021 and the first half of 2022, when UPS and FedEx - awash with volume from the early pandemic's online shopping surge - rebuffed discount requests and cherry-picked the most profitable customers. Now, those same companies are fighting to fill trucks as demand shrinks."
In other words, these folks are going to be fighting for customers and volume.